Looking Back at the 2013 Draft: NFC Playoff Teams

Story posted January 28, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio, NFL Draft by Kris Rogers

From the day after the Super Bowl until the beginning of May, all 32 NFL franchises focus their attention on the next season through the NFL Draft. Teams who suffered poor seasons often have a defined need for their first pick, but finding that specific area to improve becomes more difficult the later you go in the draft. A team could draft for depth, or address a specific need exposed during the playoffs. They could also trade up or down out of the spot they were given late in the first round. Looking back at the 2012 playoff teams, and how they drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, can help predict what this year’s group of playoff teams may do with their selections in May.

49ers: After their loss in the Super Bowl 47, in which Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes, the San Francisco 49ers traded from their original first round spot, sending pick 31 and a third-round pick to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Super Bowl runner-ups addressed an immediate need with the trade, drafting safety Eric Reid from Louisiana State, after former defensive back Dashon Goldson left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers via free agency. The rookie made an immediate impact with 77 tackles and four interceptions and made the 2013 Pro Bowl. He never missed a start, despite being diagnosed with two concussions during the season.

The Cowboys used the two picks they got in the trade to draft center Travis Frederick from Wisconsin, and wide receiver Terrence Williams from Baylor.

Redskins: The Washington Redskins did not have a first-round pick going into the 2013 Draft, due to the deal they had made in 2012 with the St. Louis Rams to select Robert Griffin III. Coming off knee surgery to repair a torn ACL, Griffin struggled in his sophomore season with inconsistent play. He threw for 3,201 yards, completing 60.1 percent of his passes and 16 touchdowns, but was picked off 12 times and lost four fumbles. His running numbers were also down as he had issues running the read-option offense. Griffin gained 489 yards on 86 carries and zero touchdowns, before being shut down for the team’s final three games to preserve his health.

Falcons: The Falcons were the top seed in the NFC going into the playoffs, but fell to San Francisco in the NFC Championship. Atlanta traded the 30th pick, as well as a third-round and sixth-round pick to the St. Louis Rams to draft cornerback Desmond Trufant. Trufant replaced Dunta Robinson, who the Falcons released in the offseason. The former Washington Huskie recorded 70 tackles, a forced fumble, and two interceptions; playing in all 16 games in his rookie season. St. Louis would use the 30th overall pick to draft Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree, who had an impressive rookie season with 117 tackles, six forced fumbles, and a 98-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

Vikings: The Vikings were the only team in the 2013 NFL Draft to have three first-round picks. Minnesota received Seattle’s first-round pick for wide receiver Percy Harvin, and also traded their second, third, fourth, and seventh-round selections to the Patriots for their first-round pick. The bold move allowed the Vikings to address several needs at the end of the first round, drafting defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson with the 23rd, 25th, and 29th picks respectively. Floyd recorded 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble, and Rhodes had 10 passes defended. However, it was Patterson who made the biggest impact.

In a primetime game against the Green Bay Packers, Patterson returned a kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown; the longest play in NFL History. The speedster finished his season with 45 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns. He also had three rushing scores and averaged 31.2 yards per kick return; finding the end zone twice.

Seahawks: After trading for wide receiver Percy Harvin from the Vikings, the Seattle Seahawks did not have a first-round draft pick. The trade filled a void for the Seahawks, who at the time did not have a defined number one target for Russell Wilson. Harvin suffered a partially-torn labrum in the offseason, and only played in one regular season game, catching one pass for 17 yards. However, he shined in the Super Bowl, accounting for 50 yards from scrimmage (45 rushing, five receiving) and returned the opening kickoff of the second half 87 yards for a touchdown.

The Vikings also have Seattle’s 2014 third and seventh-round choices as part of the Harvin deal.

Packers: After losing to the 49ers in the NFC divisional round, the Packers needed a physical run-stopping presence in their front seven. With the 26th pick, Green Bay selected defensive end Datone Jones from UCLA. Jones looked poised to make an impact as a rookie, but a high ankle sprain hampered his development for the entire season, only making 10 tackles despite playing in every regular season game. However, the rookie also recorded 3.5 sacks.

Not every prospect is going to be a success, and the chances of finding a guaranteed star decreases with each player off the board. Many of the players drafted in the first round by playoff teams would go on to make immediate impacts as starters, but others were picked to provide depth and to develop into future contributors. Fans can expect similar outcomes when the 2014 NFL Draft gets underway on May 8.

Kristopher Rogers is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email klr5374@psu.edu.